By Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun
September 22, 2012
Baltimore one day, New York the next, Los Angeles the next: Such is the life of Fallston's Jonathon Ruckman, who has spent much of the past decade carving out a career as an actor. He's made commercials, appeared in soap operas, re-enacted crimes, played heavies and heroes. Sunday, he gets to sample the TV big time with a one-line guest role on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."
"I play a recurring character," says Ruckman, though quickly adding that HBO isn't letting on about just how long his character will be around. But given what usually happens on the Atlantic City-set crime drama, chances are looking good for his return. "They did not shoot me. They did not kill me," he says.
Ruckman, 43, lives in Fallston with his wife, Lisa, and their two children, 11-year-old Ryan and 7-year-old Melanie. Lives there, that is, when he's not heading to an audition. With his series debut just days away, we asked the former Edgewood High Ram about life as a working actor.
Tell us about your appearance on 'Boardwalk Empire' this weekend.
I am playing one of Mickey Doyle's henchmen.
Have you seen the finished episode?
I have not, but they called up the other day to make sure they spelled my name correctly. So that's a good sign. I was not invited to the premiere, but it is what it is.
How did the acting bug first bite you?
Long story short, I basically — as any teenage boy would do — I was chasing a girl. It led me into a church, and as soon as I walked in the door, they were directing their little Christmas pageant back in '86, and the guy simply said, "Hey, I want you to play Mark."
How long have you been able to be a full-time actor?
Pretty much for the last eight years, I've been full-time. I have done a lot of the [crime] re-enactment shows on the Discovery Channel, a lot of the re-enactment shows on Biography, TMZ. They're doing a re-enactment show for the Oprah Winfrey Network, and I know I'm in line to do one of their episodes.
What is it about the acting life that appeals to you?
People go to work every day and do the same thing, day in and day out. For me, today I can play a cop, tomorrow I can play the serial killer, the next day I can play the father. I would define myself as a character actor. And just when I say I don't ever do one of the leading roles, I'm right in the middle of a movie right now, called "Masse," where I play the comic relief, of all things. I'm a star in that one.
Has life as an actor been easy?
It's the rejection that gets to you. I auditioned for a Harrison Ford movie in Philadelphia in June. I auditioned for a part in it, and just when you think you nailed the audition — you don't get called.
That's the toughest part about this business, not knowing why they rejected you. And usually it has nothing to do with the person they're rejecting, it's just, somebody had a look, they needed someone who was an inch taller. They never tell you that.
Sounds like there must be a lot of traveling involved.
I put 25,000 to 30,000 miles on my car a year. I do a lot of driving, a lot of flying, a lot of trains, a lot of buses.
Do you make a comfortable living?
I make a comfortable living. I have not hurt for money since the mid-'90s. All this recession stuff, it doesn't affect me.
Do you have a favorite kind of role?
I really enjoy playing the bad guy. I do it well.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun